It features prehistoric sandstone formations, the state’s easternmost waterfall, great trails, and a rare variety of blueberry that grows only in South Carolina. Now Peachtree Rock Heritage Preserve in Lexington County is growing, thanks to a recent land acquisition by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) of South Carolina.
The Conservancy this month purchased almost 100 acres adjacent to the existing 461-acre Heritage Preserve. The Preserve is owned by TNC (306 acres) and the state Department of Natural Resources (155 acres) and is managed by both organizations. The new addition features a high bluff and mature longleaf pine community, which provides nesting habitat for many species. The Conservancy has been restoring more longleaf habitat on the Preserve by removing slash pine, planting longleaf seedlings, and implementing prescribed fire to encourage the growth of those seedlings and native understory species. Longleaf restoration is a priority for the Conservancy in other parts of the state as well.
Other species of concern at the Preserve are Rayner’s blueberry (Vaccinium semperviren), woody goldenrod (Chrysoma paucifloculosa), and sandhills rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides). The site also is known for its unique Sandhills geology, including sandstone outcroppings and marine fossils, signifying that the area long ago was shoreline.
“The Nature Conservancy is privileged to be a steward of Peachtree Rock Preserve for the cultural and natural history that it showcases,” said Colette DeGarady, senior conservation ecologist for the Conservancy’s SC Chapter. “This new addition adds more diversity to our Preserve and will enhance our visitors’ hiking experience once we connect our trails to this new tract.”
“It’s not every day that we have the opportunity to expand a preserve, particularly with a property that has been so well-managed,” echoed Ryan Olson, assistant director of land protection. “Since The Nature Conservancy initially purchased the primary forest block at Peachtree Rock in 1980, the public has shown great support and commitment to this Preserve, particularly through volunteer efforts and private contributions. It is only through their continuous support that the Conservancy can acquire key tracts such as this when the opportunity arises and protect them in perpetuity.”
Only about 20 minutes from downtown Columbia, Peachtree Rock is open to the public year-round for hiking and birdwatching. From Columbia, take Highway 215 (302/Edmund Hwy) south past the airport toward Edmund. Travel until S.C. Highway 6 veers off to the left towards Swansea. Follow Highway 6 across railroad overpass for a half mile, and turn left onto Peachtree Rock Road after the large Bethel United Methodist Church sign. The parking area is immediately on your right.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.
803-254-9049, ext. 34